Kingman, AZ, Remembers 11 Fallen Firefighters

One of the most important things we can do as firefighters is to never forget the sacrifices made by those who went before us or the lessons we have learned from them. In particular, we should not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives...


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Chief Osterman reports that the incident that occurred 35 years ago has resulted in many relatives of the firefighters who were killed, including sons, nephews and uncles, becoming career and volunteer firefighters in Kingman and other communities. Assistant Chief Joe Dorner is a nephew of Butch Henry, Battalion Chief Porter Williams is the son of Lee Williams and Captain Bob Casson is the son of Bill Casson and all are career firefighters with the Kingman Fire Department. Chuck Casson, a former volunteer captain and currently a volunteer firefighter, is also the son of Bill Casson.

Chief Osterman's father, John, was also a volunteer firefighter in Kingman when the explosion occurred, but was at work at the Ford Proving Ground 25 miles away and missed the original call. John Osterman reported that his wife called him and told him "something was going on in Kingman, but she didn't know what. She said the house just shook." John told her he was on his way. He told his boss he had an emergency and needed to go back to Kingman. Gus Reichardt and Lawson Bradley, also Kingman firefighters, worked at Ford as well and he picked them up and headed to Kingman. They arrived after the explosion had occurred and immediately went to work trying to do what they could to help.

ROBERT BURKE, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the fire marshal for the University of Maryland Baltimore. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFSP), Fire Inspector II, Fire Inspector III, Fire Investigator and Hazardous Materials Specialist, and has served on state and county hazardous materials response teams. Burke is an adjunct instructor at the National Fire Academy and the Community College of Baltimore, Catonsville Campus, and the author of the textbooks Hazardous Materials Chemistry for Emergency Responders and Counter-Terrorism for Emergency Responders. He can be contacted at robert.burke@att.net.